One of the most common questions from practice managers of a growth oriented medical or healthcare practice is, “Where should I spend my marketing budget to attract new patients?” It’s a good question, especially given that trends for how consumers are choosing healthcare services are shifting dramatically. Let’s take a look at the top trends that successful medical practices are using to grow their patient base:
1) The trip to the doctor’s office starts online.
Whether patients are looking for a general practice doctor or a specialty physician, prospective patients are shopping for doctors like they do most anything else—they research online, ask for referrals and read reviews on Google and social media before they ever come in to see you.
A Pew Research national survey revealed that at least seven-in-ten (72%) adult internet users say they have searched online for information about their health issues, including specific diseases and where to find treatments near them. Today’s prospective patients are looking for a practice that can provide them with solid information about their ailment, along with scenarios about how that practice has helped others with the same condition.
Think of this aspect of online marketing as the “me too!” motivational strategy—if a patient reads how a vein clinic, for example, has the technology that helped free someone like them of varicose vein leg pain, they’re more likely to reach out with a “maybe they can help me too” response.
2) Deliver information and custom content.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, 80% of consumers prefer to learn about a company or practice by content they can access online such as blog posts or articles rather than advertisements.
So what type of content are they looking for? The Content Marketing Institute uses the following definition: “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Valuable, relevant, and consistent are the key words to hang your marketing hat on. Back to the vein clinic example, someone searching for “varicose vein treatments near me” wants to find a practice that offers plenty of information that does the following:
- Addresses their condition and concerns
- Offers solutions that seem customized for them
- Consistently establishes their physicians as experts in the field
3) Flip the ratio for traditional versus digital marketing.
It’s very common for medical practices to still sink the majority of their marketing budget into traditional channels such as print ads, tv slots, or yellow pages, but in order to show up among the online competition, the budget ratio has to change. For example, at Baker Labs we worked with a vein clinic that had been investing 80% of their marketing budget in traditional marketing avenues like direct mail and print ads, but these costs continually rose 10 – 15% per year and weren’t resulting in an equal growth in patients. (Read the case study on the results!)
By flipping their marketing budget to 80% digital marketing in order to create website content such as blog posts, eBooks, checklists, interactive symptom quizzes, and social media promotions, traffic to their website grew from 1,500 per month to more than 8,000 over two years. The growth in traffic led to a steady increase in online appointment bookings that grew their patient base well beyond their expectations.
Beyond that, the increased traffic also boosted the client’s ranking in Google searches. The client now consistently ranks on the first page of Google searches that show up when someone types in targeted symptom-centric keywords, such as “varicose vein doctors near me,” and in some cases have four or more first page positions for their content. And we all know from our own experience that we’re more likely to click on a link that shows up on the first page of a search rather than scroll through subsequent pages for information or solutions.
Simply put, online marketing is required for growth of your medical practice.
If you want new patients to show up in your waiting room, you have to show up online when they begin searching for you.
At Baker Labs, we believe in the power of content marketing and use a variety of digital strategies to help medical practices grow by attracting new and loyal patients and establishing their role as a leader in their field. We also understand that effective healthcare marketing must not only produce good results, but it must remain compliant when doing so. Contact us for a free marketing assessment of your medical practice.